40 Thai berry pickers to testify in human trafficking trial in Finnish court

A Finnish berry entrepreneur faces human trafficking charges at Central Finland District Court in a criminal trial which is expected to last months. The head of the firm is accused of bringing Thai nationals to Finland and forcing them to work under conditions which violated human dignity.

The head of a Finnish berry company faces possible penalties of a three-year prison sentence and paying compensation of some 60,000 euros to the company's former workers in a human trafficking trial which began at Central Finland District Court more than a week ago - writes yle.fi.

Due to anticipated testimony from some 40 witnesses from abroad, the trial is expected to last into December.

The berry firm chief stands accused of forcing 26 Thai migrant labourers to work under inhumane conditions during the summer of 2016.

The prosecutor says that the berry picking company housed the visiting pickers in shipping containers or in buses and that the pickers' passports were seized when they arrived.

Prosecutor: Pickers paid one euro per litre, forced to pay for equipment

According to the prosecutor the workers were forced to pay for necessary items like accommodation and transportation.

The workers were also allegedly forced to pay for required berry-picking tools, while only being paid one euro per litre of bilberries they managed to pick. The workers allegedly worked 12 to 15 hours per day, every day of the week, for the duration of their stay in Finland.

The prosecutor claims that some of the workers did not manage to earn any money the entire season, but rather were in debt to the company in the lopsided arrangement.

The defendant has denied the charges made against him.

According to the prosecutor the defendant took advantage of the workers' situation, because they could not speak the language and did not have any money to begin with.

Some 40 former employees of the company are expected to be flown from Thailand to testify in the trial, which will likely conclude in the middle of December.

Trial likely costly

The Finnish state will foot the bill for travel and accommodation for some 40 Thai witnesses to testify in the case.

The berry company could be ordered to reimburse the state for some of those costs - if the defendant is found guilty.

When the trial began, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that the witnesses would be flown from Bangkok via Helsinki to central Jyväskylä and spend two nights in a hotel.

Judge Matti Kuuliala said that it was the defendant who demanded that witnesses testify in person and not via a video link, the paper reported.

"I've had this job for thirty years, and am not aware that anything like this has been done before," Kuuliala was quoted saying by the paper on October 10.

*Bilberries look like small blueberries and are also known as wild European blueberries.

Read more news of Helsinki on our site.

yle.fi
Thaiberrypickers Finnishcourt
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Alexander Stubb (NCP), a vice-president at the European Investment Bank (EIB), has hinted at the possibility of returning to politics after losing the race to become the lead candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP) to Manfred Weber of Germany. Stubb received more votes than expected but lost to his rival candidate by a clear vote of 127 to 492 at EPP Congress Helsinki on Thursday. “I got a very good feeling [from the campaign], I must admit,” the fo...
Politics
The Finnish government will introduce no amendments to legislation on patient data during this electoral term, assures Annika Saarikko, the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services. Saarikko and Kai Mykkänen (NCP), the Minister of the Interior, have participated actively in public debate concerning a legislative proposal that, according to Helsingin Sanomat, has been drafted in secrecy and would grant police significantly wider access to sensitive pa...
Society
School groups could in the future use public transport services in the Helsinki region free of charge when travelling with a teacher, according to a decision made by the Executive Board of Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) on 30 October 2018. The final decision on transport charges, including tickets for school groups, will be made by the HSL General Meeting on 27 November.  From the beginning of 2019 onwards, municipal school administrations would no longer...
Society
Finland has dropped to eighth in the world in the latest version of a ranking of countries according to their English language skills. Finns are now the worst English-speakers in the Nordic countries, according to the EF English Proficiency Index. The 2018 version of the ranking puts Finland in eighth spot, with western neighbour Sweden topping the comparison. This year’s result is the weakest Finland has achieved in the ranking, which has been published e...
Society
The theme of next month's Independence Day ball at Helsinki's Presidential Palace will be climate change and environmental issues. The theme of this year's Independence Day reception will be climate change and the environment, according to the Office of the President of the Republic. Finland's most exclusive social occasion is just one month away, and the Office of the President has started sending invitations to some 1,700 guests for an evening that tradi...
Society
The day's papers report on unsolved thefts, free head lice medicine for families and Angela Merkel's visit to Helsinki. Daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that most larcenies go unsolved in Finland. According to statistics by the Police University College, police were able to clear 3,150 offences between January and September of this year, while about 41,500 remain unsolved. In 80 smaller municipalities, especially in Lapland and Åland, the police did not sol...
Society
Finland's Tax Administration reports that 15,000 more eligible taxpayers declared no taxable income in the last two years, putting the total past 160,000 in 2017. https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/steady_increase_in_declarations_of_no_taxable_income/10492154 The number of eligible taxpayers who reported no taxable income in Finland has risen by 15,000 in the last two years to a total of 161,000 in 2017. "Most of the people declaring no taxable income are...
Society
Women in their 60s move more than men of the same age when it comes to occupational and leisure-time physical activities, according to a new study from the University of Turku in southwest Finland. "Gender differences during the workday are partially explained by the varying work patterns and the physical activity associated with women having longer commutes to work. Women of this generation also tend to do more housework than men, and measuring devices wo...
Society
Opponents of Britain's withdrawal from the EU are calling more loudly for another referendum on Brexit. Seven of Finland's 13 MEPs think a second vote is likely. Over half of Finland's 13 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) say they believe that a second British referendum on Brexit will become a reality. The National Coalition Party's Sirpa Pietikäinen, Henna Virkkunen, Petri Sarvamaa, the Centre Party's Elsi Katainen, the Greens' Heidi Hautala, the...